Undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk — well I guess he’s not anymore, since he vacated the WBA belt, but whatever — will be moving up to heavyweight as expected, and Eddie Hearn tells ESPN that the fight with Carlos Takam which was rumored before is now official.
The better news for boxing fans: Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas tells ESPN that the previously reported May 18 date will “99.9 percent move” so as to not go head-to-head with the Deontay Wilder-Dominic Breazeale fight on Showtime. We’ve talked a lot recently about how boxing promoters and broadcasters are just running over top of one another more and more, so it’s good to see someone in the sport maybe care about this. It seems obvious, really. Why divide your already fairly limited target audience if you don’t have to? Run on a Friday. Run on a Sunday. Do something.
Anyway, the plan is still for the card to come to Chicago, where Usyk (16-0, 12 KO) will look to begin his journey to heavyweight glory. Takam (36-5-1, 28 KO) is a solid first opponent at the new weight; the move from cruiserweight to heavyweight is no joke. Moving up to a new weight never is, but it’s even wilder after you get past light heavyweight. Before that, the moves up come in smaller increments, and then after 175 you jump 25 pounds to the cruiser limit of 200, and then if you go up from there, it’s just unlimited, and you can be giving up significant weight to an opponent.
So if Usyk comes in at 210, 215 or so for his first heavyweight fight, which is probably a fair idea, he will be giving up significant weight to Takam, who usually weighs in 235-250. It’s a big part of the challenge in moving up, and while Takam is no top contender, he’s experienced and established, and a nice first test to see how Usyk feels fighting heavier, and fighting heavier men.
Hearn also has the idea to match Alexander Povetkin (34-2, 24 KO) against Michael Hunter (16-1, 11 KO) in the co-feature. If Usyk wins, he would then ideally face the winner of the Povetkin-Hunter matchup later this year. Povetkin is a still-credible veteran, while Hunter is a former cruiserweight who lost to Usyk back in 2017, and has moved up to heavyweight with good results in four fights thus far.